Pickled Rhubarb and spruce tips with fresh Sorrel makes a light and bright summer palate cleanser.

The rhubarb and spruce tip pickles in the photo above (and post below) by Carri Thurman, baker and chef at Two Sisters Bakery in Homer, Alaska, make, she says, a refreshing palate cleanser. I knew you could pickle rhubarb. I didn’t know you could eat pine needles for pleasure. Below, how a chance phone call and a culinary curiosity resulted in an intriguing preparation (and a solid all-purpose vinegar-based pickling ratio).—M.R. by Carri Thurman It has been unsettlingly sunny and warm this spring here in Alaska, but thanks to the still cool nights the season is lingering a little later here than down south—or “Outside,” as we like to call it. This gives us a little more time to capture nature’s emerging bounty before it fades into the true heat of summer. One recent sunny day I arrived Read On »

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Another glass of gin and tonic please. Photo by Donna Turner Ruhlman.

Last night, Donna and I sat out on the front porch and had a gin and tonic. It was perfect. The air was perfect. It was quiet, no lawnmowers buzzing. The air had that lovely early evening haze. It was so lovely in fact that neither of us said anything. We just sat. We’d planned this. To have a cocktail at six before I went in to make dinner. And we didn’t say anything. We just sat and enjoyed the air, the perfect temperature. The towering oaks across the street. The lushness all around us. And we enjoyed a gin and tonic, in the above glass, a glass we’d received more 24 years earlier as a wedding gift. It’s the perfect gin and tonic glass, not so small that the gin over powers the tonic, not so large that the Read On »

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real-farmer@1020

I can’t remember how I stumbled on Kasha Bialas’s blog The Farm Girl Cooks, but I know I was immediately charmed by her photography and the clear integrity of her words about life on a working, small-scale farm, Bialas Farms, about 70 miles north of New York City. I asked her if she had anything she wanted to say on my site about the work. It turns out she did, about farm size, farm income, farm work, and what she would like you to know about buying from local farmers.—M.R.   By Kasha Bialas   I was raised on our 55-acre Orange County, NY, vegetable farm, as my father was before me, and as I’m raising my son now. Our family has owned and operated this business for 75 years. Sure, it sounds romantic, but it’s Read On »

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swizzle

  In hot and humid NYC last week, we were invited downstairs to our neighbors Tobin (of Hella Bitters) and Jourdan for a cocktail. “I’m mixing swizzles,” he emailed. A perfect summer cocktail if ever there were one. Born centuries ago in the Caribbean, the swizzle is nothing more than booze, sugar, bitters, and soda, with plenty of crushed ice. Ideally you spin the crushed ice with an actual five-prong swizzle stick, made from a native plant, to help the sugar dissolve. (You can buy them at our go-to cocktail supply store, Cocktail Kingdom.) Tobin, a cocktail pro, used both Scotch and gin (in separate drinks; I requested gin, Donna had the scotch version below) along with a fiery Pasilla De Oaxaca bitters. But he noted that any spirit will work, and certainly rum would have been the spirit Read On »

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grinding meat

It’s summertime, for crying out loud! Nothing beats the smell of the smoke when hot fat hits hot coals. Grilling alone is a primal pleasure. Grilling among friends is a social pleasure. The flavor of a grilled burger is different from that of one fried in a cast iron pan–it takes on many complexities of the smoke, and if you’ve built a really hot fire, flames will lick the burger, adding even more complex Maillard flavors from all these differing heat levels. Grilled burgers have incomparable flavor for these reasons.   Why am I going on about the greatness, the inimitable deliciousness of the all-American summertime staple? Because my pal Michael Symon urged people, in the NYTimes of all places, to avoid using a grill because, “A grill is too difficult.”   Let me repeat Read On »

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